Students at UCLA and other UC campuses across the state will have their eyes on San Francisco today, where the university system’s Board of Regents is scheduled to begin considering a proposal to hike tuition by 5 percent a year over the next five years.
The proposal has been met with outrage by students, many of whom took part in campus marches Tuesday.
At UCLA, hundreds of students rallied and marched as part of a protest organized by UCLA law students.
“UCLA Law is a proud public institution, but when tuition becomes prohibitively expensive, students are priced out of an education and it disproportionately impacts low-income families and students of color,” student Eean Boles said.
Student Erika Schulz called the tuition hike a “punch in the gut.”
“Some students are not sure how they’ll pay their rent,” she said. “In reality, $3,000 costs us all significantly more in interest payments, especially when you consider that many of us will rack up six-figures in debt. It is just unfathomable.”
Hundreds of other students held a similar rally at UC Irvine, joining their counterparts from other UC campuses across the state.
The UC Board of Regents is scheduled to meet at UC San Francisco today to begin considering the proposal, which would raise annual tuition 5 percent over the next five years, make the tuition more than $15,000 by 2019.
UC officials have said that the hike is necessary to help offset higher pension and salary costs, as well as to help recruit more in-state students.
They have also said that under the proposal, the tuition hike could be less than 5 percent depending on state funding of the university system.
UC President Janet Napolitano noted that tuition rates have been frozen for three years. If the 5 percent increase is approved, it will bump tuition for the 2015-16 school year by $612, to $12,804.
Out-of-state students would pay the same increased rate, plus the non-resident fee of $22,878, which would also increase by the same percentage, according to UC.
The 5 percent increase assumes the state will provide the university system with a promised 4 percent increase in funding. But UC officials say that increase still falls short and doesn’t even cover the cost of inflation.
Napolitano has said she hopes the plan will offer some stability to students and gradual, predictable increases instead of possible large spikes in tuition — eliminating “volatility” in the tuition-setting process. She also hopes it will spur the state to boost its funding of UC.
“We must, as a state, expand capacity for Californians at our public university system and ensure that we maintain our excellence in academics, research and public service,” Napolitano said. “For this we need financial stability. Students, their families and the university itself need to plan for the future.”
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, however, has been among the dignitaries opposing the tuition hike, saying it would come two months after the regents approved 20 percent pay hikes for four university chancellors.
The university “cannot bestow pay raises on its top earners with one hand, while continually taking more from students and their families with the other and deflecting criticism by laying its solution at the door of taxpayers,” he said.
The UC Board of Regents’ Committee on Long Range Planning is scheduled to review the tuition proposal today, with the full board expected to vote Thursday.